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There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.

an irrepressible eagerness to combat the diffusion of false and misleading ideas
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:12 pm EDT, Oct 20, 2014

David Bromwich:

We have acquired an irrepressible eagerness to watch the lives of others. We pay to be the spectators of our own loss of privacy.


One must assume that all garbage is monitored by the state. Anything less would be a pre-9/11 mentality.

Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe:

The trend toward anonymity in social media has some privacy experts concerned about security.

Ajit Pai:

Hmm. A government-funded initiative is going to "assist in the preservation of open debate" by monitoring social media for "subversive propaganda" and combating what it considers to be "the diffusion of false and misleading ideas"?

Anna Sauerbrey:

The German voter-consumer will always trust the state more than he will any private company, no matter how ardently it insists on being a good guy.

Landon Fuller:

If you've upgraded to Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) and you're using the default settings, each time you start typing in Spotlight (to open an application or search for a file on your computer), your local search terms and location are sent to Apple and third parties (including Microsoft).

Craig Timberg:

Apple has chosen to not alert users when the [Yosemite] operating system itself transmits their locations, as Spotlight now does. Apple officials said that too many notifications could de-sensitize users.

gone are the burdens of ownership
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:11 pm EDT, Oct 20, 2014

Cora Currier:

The simplest way to avoid physical tracking of your cellphone by ad networks is to turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when out walking around.

Evgeny Morozov:

When, in 1975, Stafford Beer argued that "information is a national resource," he was ahead of his time in treating the question of ownership -- just who gets to own the means of data production, not to mention the data? -- as a political issue that cannot be reduced to its technological dimensions.

Taylor Swift:

I have to stop myself from thinking about how many aspects of technology I don't understand.

Evgeny Morozov:

Now any aspiring startup can rely on Verizon's infrastructure of ubiquitous connectivity and geolocational tracking to match supply and demand, with Verizon itself providing lucrative verification and locking services. Verizon hopes to eventually extend this model far beyond cars, making it possible to swap any other items fitted with an electronic lock: power drills, laptops, apartments. Verizon -- hardly a Silicon Valley pioneer -- thus joins many other champions of the "sharing economy" in insisting that "people today are embracing a sharing society -- the one that allows them to get what they want on demand". Gone are the burdens of ownership!

Katie Hetter:

A federal investigation of the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville found that Marriott employees had used "containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system" at the hotel to prevent people from accessing their own personal Wi-Fi networks.

Eric Schmidt:

If your strategy is to prevent your customer from leaving you, you probably shouldn't have had those customers in the first place.

how much they consume
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:10 pm EDT, Oct 20, 2014

B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley:

We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years.

James Hamblin:

Eighty-two percent of the world's almonds come from California.

Each almond requires 1.1 gallons of water to produce.

Despite the severe drought, as of June 30, California's Department of Agriculture projected that almond farmers will have their largest harvest to date.

Eduardo Porter:

Despite California's distress, about half of the homes in the capital, Sacramento, still don't have water meters, paying a flat fee no matter how much water they consume. Farmers in California's Imperial Irrigation District pay $20 per acre-foot, less than a tenth of what it can cost in San Diego. San Diego is building the nation's biggest desalination plant to produce fresh water at a cost of about $2,000 per acre-foot. But alfalfa growers in Southern California last year used hundreds of billions of gallons growing alfalfa that might fetch at best $340 a ton, or $920 per acre-foot of water.

Rory Stewart:

"It's like they're coming in and saying to you, 'I'm going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?' And you say, 'I don't think you should drive your car off the cliff.' And they say, 'No, no, that bit's already been decided -- the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.' And you say, 'Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.' And then they say, 'We've consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart and he says ...'"


Sometimes the market drives off a cliff.

the joy of masks
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:20 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2014

Maciej Ceglowski:

If you've ever wondered why Facebook is such a joyless place, even though we've theoretically surrounded ourselves with friends and loved ones, it's because of this need to constantly be wearing our public face. Facebook is about as much fun as a zoning board hearing.

Mike Isaac:

Facebook is working on a stand-alone mobile application that allows users to interact inside of it without having to use their real names, according to two people briefed on Facebook's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity ...

America's finest news source:

Facebook also confirmed that the company would begin covering the costs of a procedure that involves freezing a female employee's husband until he is emotionally prepared to be a father.

if you look too hard, you might stop believing
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:09 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2014

Matt Levine:

A bank is a collection of reasonable guesses about valuation. It is a purely statistical process. There is no objective reality. Did Bank of America make money last quarter? Maybe! It's an ever-so-slightly biased coin flip. Banks are magic, and if you look too hard at how the magic happens, you might stop believing in it.

James Kwak:

For the banks, of course, this is the most advanced and effective regulatory capture possible. No one has to be paid off, no one has to break the law, and no one asks too many questions.

Nolan McCarty:

Goldman Sachs is a large and complex firm that makes large and complex deals and investments in a large number of complex markets. A partial solution to this problem is to increase the number of [Fed] examiners and pay the premium needed to attract talent and expertise to the Fed. But the better solution is to make banks smaller and less complex. The increase in transparency will lead to better regulation all around.

David Sanger:

JPMorgan's security team, which first discovered the attack in late July, managed to block the hackers before they could compromise the most sensitive information about tens of millions of JPMorgan customers. The attack was not completely halted until the middle of August and it was only in recent days that the bank began to tally its full extent.

The attack came after a recent turnover within JPMorgan's information security group.

Maria Konnikova:

Humans are highly fallible; systems, much less so. Yet, as automation has increased, human error has not gone away.

Andrea Peterson and Craig Timberg:

In an era of soaring national investment in cyber-security, the weakest link often involves the inherent fallibility of humans.

where we are, and where we want to be
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:21 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2014

James Comey:

My goal is to urge our fellow citizens to participate in a conversation as a country about where we are, and where we want to be, with respect to the authority of law enforcement.

Ali Winston and Darwin Bond Graham:

Across the nation, private foundations are increasingly being tapped to provide police with technology and weaponry that -- were it purchased with public money -- would come under far closer scrutiny. In Atlanta, the police foundation has bankrolled the surveillance cameras that now blanket the city, as well as the center where police officers monitor live video feeds.

Police boosters say there's no need for public debate over these types of acquisitions.

Dan Geer:

Things that need no appropriations are outside the system of checks and balances.

the antidote to the whiplash of modern life
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:20 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2014

James Comey:

I want to make sure I have every lawful tool available to keep you safe ...

Steve Jobs:

How many things have you said no to?

Frank Chimero:

Remember your reasons, so your noes mean no and your yeses mean yes. If yes, understand the cost, accept it, and go forth. This is the antidote to the whiplash of modern life, to automatic and unchecked desire, to the anxiety created by spinelessness. A person must know what's enough, and stand beside the choice.

preying on the absolute worst fears
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:20 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2014

Paul Ford:

You could connect to other computers on the Internet and use them as if you were right in front of them. I remember finding out about this and being incredibly freaked out. I remain freaked out.

Derek Brink:

Very much like the thin blue line of law enforcement or the thin red line of firefighters, the thin digital line of cybersecurity professionals will increasingly be recognized and appreciated as an important and meaningful vocation.

Evgeny Morozov:

While cybernetic feedback loops do allow us to use scarce resources more effectively, the easy availability of fancy thermostats shouldn't prevent us from asking if the walls of our houses are too flimsy or if the windows are broken ...

Jessy Irwin:

By preying on the absolute worst fears of administrators and parents across the country, technology companies are earning millions of dollars selling security "solutions" that do not accurately address the threat model these tools claim to dispel.


Managed security services is projected to be a $10 billion market by 2018 growing at a 30% CAGR from 2013 to 2018.

the curve of the Earth
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:55 pm EDT, Oct 18, 2014

David Foster Wallace:

There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

From The World in 2009:

Someone once accused Craig Venter of playing God.

His reply was, "We're not playing."

A joke that Ruedi Beglinger used to tell:

What's the difference between God and a mountain guide?

God doesn't think he's a mountain guide.

Colin Dickey:

It is said that from the top of Everest one can see the curve of the Earth. One has to wonder if those who make it up there -- the ones who've been willing to gamble away their humanity, who've come to kill dragons and end up becoming monsters themselves -- can also see the arc of history.

Alexander Tyler, in 1787:

The average age of the world's greatest civilization has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.

the choices we face
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:55 pm EDT, Oct 18, 2014

Thomas Wells:

There is an advantage to a government being so obnoxiously direct about its paternalism: one can politicize and challenge the government's limitation of our choices. This may not be possible if the state instead tries to change how we behave by exploiting our cognitive weaknesses about how we understand the choices we face.

Dan Geer:

You have the biggest financial firms saying that their dependencies are no longer manageable, and that the State's monopoly on the use of force must be brought to bear.

Mikey Dickerson:

These problems are fixable; these problems are important, but they require you to choose to work on them.

James Comey:

It is time to have open and honest debates about liberty and security.

Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Steven Rich:

Prince George's police spent $382,000 on license-plate readers ... and an undisclosed amount on a "cell site simulator" that can surreptitiously track cellphones. The Prince George's police spokeswoman said the cellphone-tracking system is only used under court order and that the department "follows best practice policies" when spending forfeiture funds.


Last year America's courts and law-enforcement agencies served 37,839 subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants for location data just to one phone company, AT&T. This year's figure had already climbed to 30,886 by the end of June, the company says.

Paraphrasing David Pritchard:

... every detail of students' interactions -- how long they spend watching lectures, how often they pause or repeat sections, how much of the textbook they read and when, and so on -- is recorded ...

Steve Lohr:

Sociometric Solutions advises companies using sensor-rich ID badges worn by employees. These sociometric badges, equipped with two microphones, a location sensor and an accelerometer, monitor the communications behavior of individuals -- tone of voice, posture and body language, as well as who spoke to whom for how long.

Evgeny Morozov:

We no longer need to visit the proverbial bazaar: the market will find us in the comfort of our homes, making us an offer we cannot refuse.

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